Hometown Girl Shelby Rogers Upsets 1st Seed Madison Keys
World No. 11 Madison Keys started the match in very unconvincing fashion, going down a double break in the first set. At 0-3, Keys started to push Rogers further behind the baseline, and got more consistent on serve. This helped her turn the set around and take the first 6-4. After getting the first game of the second set, Keys lost the next 11 games in a row, a sight rarely seen, putting her at 6-4 1-6 0-5. This was not only caused by Keys starting to perform poorly on serve, but especially Rogers becoming more aggressive, exposing the angles. Keys took one break back before losing 6-4 1-6 1-6 in 1 hour and 36 minutes. Keys made 7 double faults and won only 21% of points after 2nd serve, showing that she is still far from the level she was at before her injury. Shelby Rogers will face Naomi Osaka next in the Round of 16.
Daria Kasatkina and Daria Gavrilova Advance, Set Up “The Dasha Derby”
This was the third meeting between the WTA Rising Stars Daria Kasatkina and Monica Puig, and just like the previous two, it was a three set battle. It didn’t seem like that in the beginning, as Puig lost the first set 0-6, winning only 1 point on her serve. In the second set, the gold medalist from Rio started to fight back and find her game, which resulted in Puig winning the second set 7-6(3). The final set was more even than suggested by the score, with Kasatkina managing to find the extra bit of energy to push her to win almost every game. When serving to stay in the match at 2-5, nerves got to Puig, and after two lost rallies and a double fault, she was down 0-40. However, the Puerto Rican got really aggressive and saved 3 match points, before finally falling after 2 hours and 1 minute, 0-6 7-6(3) 2-6. Despite beating the World No. 1 Angelique Kerber twice already in 2017, Kasatkina hasn’t had an ideal start to the year. She was actually coming into Charleston with a 4 match losing streak. The Russian is now through to the Round of 16, just one match away from defending her quarterfinal run from last year in Charleston.
Kasatkina’s opponent in Round of 16 will be her good friend and 9th seed Daria Gavrilova. The Australian swept past American Alison Riske 6-3 6-1 in just an hour and 6 minutes. Despite a heavily taped right thigh, Gavrilova was moving well and her return game was on point, winning 65% of all points on return. Gavrilova has to hope for a solid result in Charleston, as she has to defend Quarterfinals in Madrid and Round of 16 in Madrid. On the bright side, the Australian made a first round exit at Roland Garros last year, giving her a chance to increase her ranking with a solid run in Paris, perhaps break Top 20. Head-to-head between Kasatkina and Gavrilova is 1-0 for the Russian, winning their only meeting at the 2015 US Open, Kasatkina’s breakout run.
Resurgent Rodionova Marches On
34 year-old Anastasia Rodionova is now through to the Round of 16, defeating former World No, 5 and 2012 Roland Garros finalist Sara Errani 6-2 6-2. Rodionova managed to just hit through Errani, who is currently struggling and outside the Top 100. This is the Australian’s 4th win in a row, not even losing a set yet in Charleston. Rodionova’s next opponent will either be World No. 12 Caroline Wozniacki or Annika Beck. In the live rankings, Rodionova is at No. 349, meaning that she will move up 320 spots in the rankings if she loses in the 3rd Round. If she will win, Rodionova will be back to Top 300.
Other than the No. 1 seed Madison Keys and Venus’ loss to Siegemund, two other seeds lost today. 13th Shuai Zhang didn’t manage to hold off the sheer firepower of Naomi Osaka, even on clay. The Japanese player won 6-4 6-4, and will play Shelby Rogers for a place in the quarterfinals .
4th seed and Indian Wells champion Elena Vesnina will not defend her final at the Volvo Car Open, as she makes a 2nd Round exit to Hungarian qualifier Fanny Stollar. This is the biggest win of her career so far for the 18 year-old, beating the World No. 13. 13 is also the number of aces Stollar fired off in this straight set win. Despite failing to serve out the match twice, Stollar managed to regroup and win the match 7-6(7) 7-6(3). The talented Hungarian will next face Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia.
5 seeds advanced to the second round, 4 of them in straight sets. 10th seed Irina-Camelia Begu was the odd one out, battling past Kristina Kucova 4-6 6-2 7-6(6) after 2 hours and 29 minutes. The Romanian will face Samantha Stosur next.
7th seed Kiki Bertens was the highest seed that advanced today, defeating Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine 6-2 7-5. Bertens will need to take advantage of the lack of favorites and get as far as possible, since she has to defend a staggering 1218 points. 11th seed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni is continuing to have an incredible year, now through to the Round of 16, where Bertens and Lucic-Baroni will face off.
15th seed Lucie Safarova beat her doubles partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-3 6-3. The Czech will be next tested by Laura Siegemund,. 8th seed Anastasija Sevastova defeated Andrea Petkovic 6-3 6-4. After the match, the German informed her fans on Twitter that she suffered a knee injury in the match. She wrote that she will get an MRI and have more information soon. Petkovic is a well-liked player, but she has been going through a rough patch results-wise, so let’s hope that this will not be a career-ending injury.
Sevastova’s next opponent will be the Tunisian lucky loser Ons Jabeur, who actually didn’t win a match in qualifying, as she received a walkover and then lost to Asia Muhammad. In the main draw, however, Jabeur already beat Erakovic and Linette in straight sets. Jelena Ostapenko is the other Latvian in the Round of 16, beating Maria Sakkari 6-2 4-6 6-2.
Victoria Azarenka Cruises Past Svitolina To Reach Australian Open Fourth Round
The former champion produced a ruthless display to book her place in the last 16.
Victoria Azarenka is through to the fourth round of the Australian Open after beating 15th seed Elina Svitolina 6-0, 6-2 in 67 minutes.
Facing a top 20 player at Melbourne Park for the first time since 2016, the world No.25 hit 17 winners and four aces in the win. Azarenka, who is one of only eight active players to have won more than 100 Grand Slam main draw matches, improving her record against Ukrainian players to 16-1.
“I thought I was really well-executing my game plan. I wanted to put as much pressure as I could on her and kind of not let her come into the match,” said Azarenka. “She’s an amazing fighter. I know if I give her a little room, she’s going to get back out there. That was my purpose today, and I think I executed that well.”
It was the number 24 seed with the better start to the match and ashe played aggressively from the word go. Earning three chances to break in the very first game and broke to take an early 1-0 lead. After consolidating the break, Azarenka was hungry for more and she got another chance to go up a double break and broke once again with a stunning forehand winner.
at 4-0, the Belorussian continued to dominate and broke Svitolina’s serve once more this time with a backhand winner down the line before serving out the first set to take it 6-0 in 25 minutes flat.
The first game of the second set was a carbon copy of the opening of the first set with Azarenka breaking once again to take a 1-0 lead and it stayed on serve until 4-2 when the number 24 seed went up a double break to lead 5-2.
The last game was a long affair with the Ukrainian starting to find her game and it went back and forth with the Belorussian looking to seal the win while Svitolina pushed back to stay alive.
It took six match points and saving three break points before Azarenka was able to serve it out and take the win. She will now face Barbora Krejickova who defeated Jelena Ostapenko 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
“The rise of Barbora has been pretty incredible over the last year and a half, basically since COVID. She seems to kind of elevate her game more and more. She has all the good tools to play,” the two-time champion said of her next oponent.
“She can play aggressive, she can mix it up. A very dangerous player. We played once in Ostrava. It was pretty tight match and really good quality.” She added.
Naomi Osaka Overcomes Second Set Scare To Reach Last 32 At Australian Open
Naomi Osaka is into the last 32 of the Australian Open where Amanda Anisimova awaits.
Two-time champion Naomi Osaka overcame a second set scare to defeat Madison Brengle 6-0 6-4 to reach the third round of the Australian Open.
Osaka overcame a second set scare as she produced another dominant display of power to reach the last 32 against the unconventional American.
The world number 14 is looking for her fourth grand slam title in Melbourne.
Next for Osaka is Amanda Anisimova who beat a physically compromised Belinda Bencic 6-2 7-5.
It was a lightening quick start from Osaka who took the opening set in 20 minutes.
A display of power, accuracy and pace saw Brengle struggling to gain points on her service games.
The American isn’t a player who is going to hit you off the court and her shots were way too conservative against a player like Osaka who hits the ball so cleanly from the baseline.
Brengle came close but no reward as Osaka reeled off seven games in a row to take a 6-0 1-0 lead.
However Brengle eventually settled into her rhythm and to her obvious delight was ecstatic to win her first game of the match.
This relaxation allowed her to play with complete freedom as she started to use a lot of depth, angles and topspin to disrupt Osaka’s rhythm, who’s level dropped slightly.
Brengle created nine break points which Osaka saved with aggression and precison but on the tenth one, the American eventually broke to go a break up in the second set.
The American’s smile said it all as she was now in command of the second set but that didn’t last long.
That’s as Osaka used her champion’s skills to grind the break back and then went on a run of eight consecutive points to seal victory and a spot in the third round.
After the match Osaka spoke about her return game and the prospects of facing Amanda Anisimova in the next round, “I honestly want to say I returned pretty well,” Osaka admitted in her on-court interview.
“Been really working on it in the off-season. I’m trying not to [rate my level] if I compare myself to the past I will never be satisfied. I’m trying to take it one day at a time.
“I think we’re both going to take our chances. It’s very interesting to play against the younger players because I remember being a younger player myself and having nothing to lose.”
Friday’s meeting between the two players will be the first time they have faced each other.
Aryna Sabalenka Survives Sanders Scare At Australian Open
The Belarussian was made to work hard during her opening match at Melbourne Park.
World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka came back from the brink of defeat to seal her spot in the second round of the Australian Open.
The two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist struggled with her consistency throughout her 5-7, 6-3, 6-2, win over wild card Storm Saunders, who is yet to win a Grand Slam main draw match in her career. At one stage Sabalenka looked to be on the verge of suffering a third consecutive Tour defeat after trailing by a set and a break to the underdog before staging an emphatic fight back. Doing so with the help of her rival who started to unravel as the match progressed.
“She played well, she’s a tough opponent and I’m happy I won today,” Sabalenka said of Sanders during her on-court interview.
Sabalenka’s roller-coaster victory is best illustrated by the match statistics. Dealing with inconsistencies in her serve, she produced a total of 12 double faults and won 43% of her second service points. Furthermore, she hit a total of 29 winners against 37 unforced errors en route to the victory.
Playing a top 10 player for only the second time in her career, 27-year-old Sanders started the match in clinical fashion as she produced a level of tennis which exceeded that of her current ranking. Three consecutive times she managed to dismantle the Sabalenka serve to open up a swift 4-1 lead. However, the second seed briefly managed to find her footing in the match to claw her way back and level the set at 5-5. Not to be disheartened, Sanders continued pressing her opponent who faltered at the worst possible moment. Granting the underdog another break before she closed out the set.
On the verge of suffering an upset, Sabalenka’s woes continued in the second set when she got broken once again three games in. Trailing 5-7, 1-3, she managed to turn her fortunes around with the help of a six-game winning streak. Exposing the inexperienced her opponent has of playing on the biggest stages of the game. Serving to level up, she triumphed on her third set point with the help of a serve down the center of the court which Sanders returned out.
Into her stride, Sabalenka charged towards the finish line by winning a further four games in the decider before Sanders managed to register another game of her own. Serving for the win, a blistering serve down the center of the court secured the victory.
“I was already (mentally) in the locker room. Maybe that was the key because I stopped thinking too much and started playing tennis. I tried to put the ball (on the court) as much as I could and I think I did it well. That’s why I came back (in the match),” Sabalenka commented on how she turned the match around.
“Now I will recover and then tomorrow I will speak with my team about my next opponent.”
Sabalenka will play China’s Wang Xinyu in the next round. She could claim the world No.1 ranking in Melbourne if one of two scenarios occur over the coming days. She reaches the final and Ash Barty loses before the quarter-finals or Barty reaches the Quarter-finals and Sabalenka goes on to win the title.
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